August 24, 2014

SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH

    Chapter XIX of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser

[Continued from last week.—editor.]

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

[In most of his articles Dr. Quimby used the expressions “Christ or Truth,” “Christ or Science,” and so the term Science came to stand for “the Science of the Christ,” or “Science of Health and Happiness.” In an article on “Aristocracy and Democracy,” written, February, 1863, he uses the term “Christian Science” for the first time. The paragraph in which the term occurs is as follows:]

The leaders of the medical schools, through the hypocrisy of their profession, deceive the people into submission to their opinions, while democracy forges the fetters which are to bind them to disease. Science, which would destroy this bondage, is looked upon as blasphemy when it dares oppose the faculty, and religion has no place in medical science. So in the church the religion of Jesus’ Science is never heard; for it would drive aristocracy out of the pulpit, and scatter seeds of freedom among the people. Nevertheless, the religion of Christ is shown in the progress of Christian Science, while the religion of society decays as the liberal principles are developed. Man’s religion labors to keep Science down in all churches North and South, by suppressing free discussion, for aristocracy will not have anything tending to freedom.

[In lengthy articles devoted to biblical interpretation, Dr. Quimby endeavored to show that there is a spiritual Science in the Bible underneath the letter of the Word, and in all these studies he contrasts the two forces at work within man, for example, Cain and Abel, Law and Gospel, Saul and Paul. He believed that the Bible was never intended as a religious book in the common acceptance of the term, it “has nothing to do with theology,” but contains a “scientific” explanation of cause and effect, showing how man must act and think for his happiness. Thus the account of creation pertains to man’s spiritual development, not to the production of a literal earth. Dr. Quimby also expounded many passages in the New Testament so as to free his patients from a literal view and show that Jesus’ sayings implied “the Christ within” or true healing principle. Thus he set the example followed by all his adherents who have found a key to the Scriptures in spiritual interpretation.

[It will be noticed that statements appear from time to time in the foregoing selections from which it would be easy to make the inferences on which “Christian Science” ordinarily so–called was based. For example, in “Questions and Answers” we read, “There is no wisdom in matter,” and that the truth or understanding on which Quimby bases his teaching “is God, . . . for in that there is no matter; and so to understand is Wisdom, not matter.” Matter is said to be merely “an idea” or “shadow.” Combine these statements with the proposition that “matter contains no life or intelligence” and that life or intelligence is to be attributed to God only, and it is only a step to infer that “all is mind, there is no matter”—that is, no matter in God. Matter comes into view when it is a question of opinions or errors which take shape according to our allegiance to them, our bondage to the mind of opinions—called by Mrs. Eddy “mortal mind.” Dr. Quimby did not deny the existence of matter as an expression of mind. But he did say that there is “no matter in God.” Hence it is legitimate to say in that connection “all is mind, there is no matter.”

[Again, we find Quimby saying, “The Science of Health which I teach was practised by Jesus. . . . His Science or Christ put man in tune.” “This knowledge which I put in practice is the Science of Health.” He also refers to the “Principle that never moves, the foundation of all things.” God to Quimby was this “Principle” which Jesus taught as “the Christ.” Here we have the origin of the term “Science and Health,” and the other terms on which the later “Christian Science” was founded. This Science was to Quimby the clue to the spiritual interpretation of Scripture. He also speaks of it as “revelation.”

[It is noticeable that in “Questions and Answers” there is no clear idea of the human self, and that other points obscure in that manuscript are obscure in “Christian Science,” also. On the whole “Questions and Answers” is very obscure. Nor is there to be found anywhere in the earlier writings a clear idea concerning the nature and origin of evil. Hence it would have been easy to make the inference: “all is good, there is no evil,” since Quimby attributes all evil to human opinion or error, and finds no reality in an ultimate sense in human opinions and errors. Later, he is more explicit, and plainly says that goodness is to be attributed to God only, goodness is due to Science, and should be taught to young and old as a Science. It is therefore right to infer that evil is due to our ignorance, to opinion. Had we been taught Science from the beginning, we would have grown up without diseases, without evil; and we would never have mistaken appearances or shadows for reality.

[Dr. Quimby never uses the language of denial. He never explicitly says, “there is no matter,” or “there is no evil.” This is a legitimate back–handed way of declaring what to him was the greatest truth: there is no reality save that which exists in God or Science. His realization of this truth was so strong that he did not need denials. Furthermore, as the foregoing selections make plain, he believed it necessary to explain as well as cure or heal; and to explain was to show precisely in what way shadows had been misinterpreted as substances. His realization for Mrs. Patterson–Eddy gave her the impetus which started her on the way we find her following as indicated by her letters, 1862–64, while she is gradually gaining strength and learning to apply the new “Science.” Her later statements, like those of Rev. Mr. Evans and the other followers of Quimby, are conditioned by her understanding of what Quimby meant. Whether her inferences were right or not, or whether Evans in his “Mental Cure” and “The Divine Law of Cure” was a clearer reasoner, must be left for the reader to determine.]

[This is the second installment of an twelve–part series originally written and published as Chapter XIX. SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser. THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, 1921.—editor.]


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Editor’s Corner

Today we are continuing an twelve–part serial review of Chapter 19, SCIENCE, LIFE, DEATH, of the 1921 publication, of The Quimby Manuscripts by Horatio W. Dresser.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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